By Mark Ulyseas
For The Bali Times
This is an appeal to all those who want to drape Bali, to cover her beauty and sensuality that is the very soul of her spirituality. Please don’t do it.
You asked me on that fateful rain-swept night whether I was in love with Bali; here is my answer. I begin with a quote from a song by Fleetwood Mac.
Do you know all there is to know about love?
And if you do
Then let me know
If I have loved enough
To make it without you.
How do you compose a song to a beautiful, gracious, enchanting and enigmatic woman? Do you pay obeisance with a humbleness that delights the soul? Do you behave like a gentile by ravaging her loins? Or do you immerse yourself in her fragrant embrace, crying to belong and be loved in that final moment of pure ethereal intimacy?
Where does one begin to tell the story of a love that enraptures and snares the imagination of an aging heart filled with ambiguous sorrows and betrayals of a lifetime.
The writer of this column first met her when he removed his dusty shoes at her doorstep, apprehensive of a life of perceived anxieties that probably lay in ambush ready to strike a discordant note.
The warm sun shone down on his body, recharging the spent soul that lay lifeless within. The sand between his toes was gently removed by the caress of the waves. And the wind created eddies of sensual thoughts while the rains cleansed him of mindless indiscretions and washed away all roads that led back to the past.
When the hands of time began to play a symphony of mantras, she danced into his life and settled in his inner being. Discreetly but firmly she took him by the hand and led him through the emerald fields, orange groves and vineyards pregnant with grapes, seducing him with images of perpetual floral tributes and offerings of food to the gods. The haunting music that she played permeated every sinew and reverberated in the Self. It was followed by an exotic ballet that narrated a story of celestial beings.
The pageantry and the comforting food lulled him into a sublimity that tripped the negativity switch.
As obsession took hold the days became shorter and the nights longer. Temple bells, chants of the faithful and the aroma of frangipani and joss sticks hypnotized him. For a brief period he lay in the voluptuous embrace of the goddess, content and spiritually satiated.
The sojourn into languidness was abruptly interrupted one moonless night when the demons came calling. They awoke him to the thought of leaving and walking away… to rest forever in the wilderness. He arose from the bed and donned the clothes of a gypsy to roam like a myopic creature, to feel his way along the contours of her landscape with words of bitterness smothered in colorful but painful memories of love and belonging. The lascivious fruits served at the dens of iniquities drove him further away from her to the edge of sanity.
The goddess stood by and gazed sadly at the errant spirit that traveled aimlessly through the luxuriant foliage that draped her valleys and hills where a playful waterfall blew a gossamer spray across his face and birdsong echoed in the emptiness he felt. She knew he would return one day to suckle on her tenderness. But time was the essence, for in time he would rethread the needle and darn the gaping hole in his spiritual raiment.
The long months of self-imposed exile nurtured a passion and gave birth to a newfound freedom of Self. The Self grew with multiplicities of action that reached out to all in its path, clutching at anything and everything in a vain attempt to Be. This carried on as one season ended and another began to sprout days of doubt and introspection.
Then on the auspicious day when ancestors are remembered, thunder shook him to reality and lightning rekindled the flame that the demons had snuffed out on a night of no shadows. Life returned with a reverence, vigor, hope, joy and love. He stumbled back from willfulness, crossing streams of unfaithfulness and passing through the doors of tranquility to the outstretched arms of the goddess like a lover returning to a long-lost love. Her deep recesses opened up to engulf him in pure happiness.
The tingling feeling that returned dispatched the numbness he had felt for a long time. The fleshy papaya and the juicy red watermelon were aphrodisiacs that created a magical surge of consciousness, enticing it to grow once again within him; passion became all pervasive as he lay spread-eagled on the cool earth, bathing in the moonlight. Fireflies lit up the bushes like fairy lights on a Christmas tree as crickets serenaded the unsullied emotions that gripped the night.
When the new dawn broke, painting the sky with hues of orange, red, pink and blue, the goddess stirred from her slumber to the sound of cowbells in the distance. A smile crossed her face, a glow emanated from her edifice, for she knew that he had returned to nestle in her fold, never to depart again.
Now as time plays the rhythms of the saints, the author is at peace with himself and the goddess who gives him a home to rest his weary head and a love that is reflected in the daily offering laid at his door amidst pulsating verdant surroundings.
As he watches the butterflies amongst the mango blossoms, flamboyant doves making love on the alang-alang roofs and the expansive banana leaves swaying in the gentle breeze, he sings a song… a love song to Bali.
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti Om